While NYCB's internal policy may have been violated which may justify some sort of reprimand, the company should recognize that it was woefully weak in supporting its dancers during the smear campaigns against their revered leader waged by The New York Times' irresponsible writers, Macaulay's new BFF John Clifford, Washington Post, the Boals, and Wilhelmina Frankfurt 🙄. Woefully weak. It was also woefully weak in controlling the gloating and cheering of the principal ballerina and corpsman who seem to be the NYT's snitches-on-speed-dial. In sum, NYCB board and executive director failed its dancers during the company's biggest crisis since Balanchine's death.
Let's all just hang loose and wait for Catazaro and Ramasar to return in 2019 and give them a hero's welcome. Look, Amar wasn't scheduled to return from Carousel until then anyway. As for Finlay, now that he's no longer at NYCB, he should release a statement with full details which will allow everyone to clear the air before he goes off to enjoy another tremendous career elsewhere. It might even be a soothing relief to publish the texts and emails for everyone to see. Otherwise, all we will ever get is the nonstop NYT version, so often so yellow that it isn't fit to print.
Haglund finally received his NYCB subscription tickets. Tucked into the packet was a delightful buck slip which apologized for The Times Are Racing being included in the subscription selection for the second year in a row. Full instructions followed for exchanging tickets. lol, ya think they're getting a little pushback from the longtime subscribers?
Of course everybody is waiting until the first week's casting comes out to buy their tickets to the film version of An American in Paris that will be screened at the Landmark Cinema on West 42nd 57th Street on an important Jewels night, Thursday September 20th. Just a reminder -- it will also screen on Sunday at 11AM and will be finished in plenty of time to get to the 3PM Jewels performance. You don't want to miss Robert Fairchild on the big screen. Really, you don't. Tickets here.
ABT can't seem to get its casting published for the diminishing fall season on the George Balanchine Stage at Lincoln Center. However, it has announced the December Nutcracker casting at the Segerstrom Center in Orange County. BOTH BLAINE HOVEN and TOM FORSTER will debut as Nutcracker Princes. Now that is very, very good news for our world, isn't it?!
Blaine will dance opposite Sarah Lane; Tom will dance opposite Christine Shevchenko, also debuting. The only TBA is Stella's partner for two performances.
Listen, all you LA Haglund'eelers -- get on it right now and get your front row seats so that you can report back to Haglund. He loves these dancers a lot, but not enough to fly to Orange County in Christmastime traffic -- probably.
Who could blame the dove for homing in on Marcelo Gomes’ shoulder and clinging to it instead of obediently flying to its perch during the concluding moments of last night’s tender pas de deux from The Two Pigeons. The dove was feeling the love as was most everyone in the audience. Like its mate waiting on the perch for the wayward dove to join it, the audience had been waiting for a year for Marcelo to return to his home ballet stage. For a few minutes last night the impossibly complex cosmos was at last orderly again as Frederick Ashton’s brilliant choreography of reconciliation played out before us.
What a sublime beauty of a ballet this Ashton excerpt was as danced by Marcelo and the luminous Victoria Hulland who hails from Upstate New York and spent her teen years dancing in the Mohawk Valley Ballet and the Ellison Ballet professional training program in Manhattan. A statuesque blond ballerina who possesses impeccable lines, she was a perfect match for the dark, handsome Marcelo and his richly textured dramatic style. Through swoop and bend, gorgeous arabesques with her hands behind her head, quivering limbs, and fluttering feet, Victoria was the essence of this pas de deux even though the center of our focus may have been fixed on Marcelo. The phrases of supported arabesque in which the two faced opposite directions while his extended arm followed the line of her extended leg revealed the elegance in the geometry. As her head went down, his went toward the sky. As her head came up, his face descended into the palm of his hand. Incredible stuff from an incredible choreographer.
We watched Ashton’s Meditation From Thais set to Massenet’s hypnotic violin solo without blinking. Katelyn May (lightning fast bourrées) and Ricardo Rhodes (strong partnering, simmering sensuality) gloriously performed this ballet while wearing costume designs by Anthony Dowell. Meditation is that rare pas de deux that conveys a complete and intensely interesting story.
The Pas de Trois from Les Patineurs was a curious choice for the program. Dressed as two young girls and a boy, the dancers (Asia Bui, Ivan Duarte, Samantha Benoit) kind of skated about for two or three minutes and then skated through overly-long bows. The selection taken out of context and plopped onto the stage in the middle of the recorded music seemed like a jarring commercial.
La Chatte, a solo which Ashton created for an Hommage to Fanny Elssler Gala to music from Offenbach’s comic opera about a cat who turns into a woman, was performed by Kate Honea. She packed feline neurosis into the choreography quite well. The solo ended when a mouse came scurrying across the stage which sent the cat into a noisy “cat fit”. Cameron Grant performed the solo piano music.
Monotones I and Monotones II, performed with the luxury of Cameron Grant at the piano, each suffered from the audience being too close to the stage. The wobbling of arabesque balances in Monotones I (Ryoko Sadoshima, Thomas Glugovaz, Samantha Benoit) would not have been so evident in a larger theater. Because of the close proximity to the stage, the audience was conscious of the stress the dancers were under due to the difficulty of the choreography. Arguably easier than Monotones I, Monotones II fared better but still revealed the stress that the dancers were experiencing. The evening’s cast (Richardo Graziano, Victoria Hulland, Ricardo Rhodes) seemed slightly more comfortable than the matinee’s cast (Jamie Carter, Amy Wood, Daniel Pratt).
Both Saturday performances opened with Christopher Wheeldon’s There Where She Loved set to a concoction of Frederic Chopin and Kurt Weill — all of it played wonderfully by Cameron Grant and sung beautifully by sopranos Michelle Giglio and Stella Zambalis. We’re sorry to have to say that the whole thing was Wheeldon’s same soup in a different bowl. We’ll leave it at that.
It was wonderful to see the Sarasota Ballet once again. The dancers seem to have grown in sophistication and technical expertise since we last saw them in 2016. It’s almost impossible to express how grateful we all were that the company was able to persuade Marcelo to perform with them in New York and in the coming season in Sarasota.
Saturday afternoon, critic Alastair Macaulay sat in his chair at the Joyce Theater wearing expressions of arrogance and sadness. Was he reflecting on it being the anniversary of Ashton’s death or perhaps was he reflecting on how his and his colleagues' histrionic and reckless perpetuation of mass hysteria with their yellow journalism in the last year had created more victims than responsible reporting? Or maybe he was thinking about another anniversary. A week earlier, it was the 20th Anniversary of his own arrest and jailing for preying on children with his camera in Scarborough on England’s North Sea coast. Given the atmosphere that Alastair has helped perpetuate, it would seem fair to say that his own back story might hold some interest for U.S. authorities. For instance, how did Alastair answer those pesky questions on the visa and green card applications about whether or not he’d ever been arrested? And, did anyone check out his story? Perhaps ICE or USCIS would want to take a look at those documents to see if the questions were truthfully and fully answered. Maybe it would turn out to be one of those cases where "Truth isn't truth." Whatever. Happy Anniversary to him…
Meanwhile, we’ll wing a Pump Bump Award to Marcelo Gomes -- a gold winged stiletto -- with our eternal thanks for a great run of 20 years and our hope for a few more years to come.
Like many balletomanes, Haglund has long felt that when treasured ballerinas retire from ballet and journey off to try to extend their time under the spotlight by engaging in angst & yank riff-raffography, they will just have to make that journey without old Hag in tow. Cruel as it may sound, there's got to be a lot more left beneath the graying bun than lipstick and leg splits to persuade the true classical ballet audience to follow.
Truth be told, Haglund has avoided most of Diana Vishneva's forays into the ballet afterlife. But he's sort of looking forward to her upcoming collaboration entitled Sleeping Beauty Dreams which premieres in Miami for two performances on December 7 & 8 and then opens at the Beacon Theatre (2124 Broadway) for two nights on December 14 & 15. The Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami announced on its website that Desmond Richardson will be Prince Peter to Diana's Princess Aurora.
The libretto of Sleeping Beauty Dreams centers on what Princess Aurora actually dreamed about during her 100 year sleep. New text. New music. New choreography. New concept. A very new concept. According to the Sleeping Beauty Dreams website, the production will be experimental in every sense:
SBD is an unprecedented show, in which contemporary dance meets state-of-the-art, real-time avatar-mapping projection technology and contemporary music to create a new kind of multi-dimensional scenic experience.
The creative team includes Vishneva; contemporary choreographer Edward Clug; Carlo Ratti, the Italian architect-inventor-engineer who is an MIT professor and runs the school's MIT Senseable City Lab which studies how digital technologies are altering how people live; Tobias Gremmler, a digital artist; Bart Hess, a textiles and materials manipulator/designer/inventor who covered Lady Gaga in slime for Born this Way; and Noisia orNOISIΛ(VISION spelled upside down & backwards), electronic music trio from Groningen, Netherlands.
Are you thinking that this could be a little crazy? It gets better.
As we reported back on May 2nd, former Trump senior official Michael Caputo is the chief marketing officer of the show in addition to being one of Robert Mueller's persons of interest. One of the show's producers is Sergey "George" Petrushin, a longtime business associate of Caputo. Petrushin was the first one contacted by Henry Greenburg who claimed to have "dirt on Hillary Clinton" which he wanted Trump to pay $2 million for. Petrushin put Greenburg in touch with Caputo who put him in touch with Roger Stone. (WPO June 17, 2018) The Chairman of the Board of Advisors for Sleeping Beauty Dreams is Kendall Coffey. Mr. Coffey, who in 2000 was a member of Al Gore's legal team, is according to Politico a member of Roger Stone's legal team for the Russia probe. Mr. Coffey has been generously talking to Larry King, Bloomberg, NBC, and even Vanity Fair about the Mueller investigation.
Those Sleeping Beauty Dreams meetings with Messrs. Caputo, Petrushin, and Coffey must be like a fairy tale in the making.
The production comes with a Parental Guidance 13+. Here's the I-gram account and below is the official promo. Let's hope that Princess Aurora has more than just nightmares during her 100-year snooze:
In what seems to be the final media piece on theБольшой балетcompetition in Moscow where Skylar Brandt was the non-competing partner of Julian MacKay, we noted the following:
Beginning around 2:13 we see the stage of the awards ceremony where it appears that all of the participants except for the winners are standing in a semi-circle holding flowers and gift bags. Skylar, in a dark gown, is in the center of the frame standing next to the red carpet. Julian doesn't seem to be on the stage; so we can deduce that he won a prize. It's hard to tell who is who and thus it's difficult to speculate who won the best ballerina prize and who won the best couple prize. Any forensic balletoscientist worth his salt could easily compare the frames beginning at 2:13 to the contestants' photos at this link and come up with some evidence-based conclusions about the winners. We'll leave that to the Russians as we would never want to interfere with the interpretation of the results of their national election contest.
Once again, the Russian media has honed in on Skylar. Take a look at the close-up shots of her that begin around 2:23. When this program airs in January, it will provide a tremendous opportunity for her to launch her career internationally and not look back at what might have been if McKenzie had been paying attention. She has already gotten more Russian national exposure – with more to come in January – than she's gotten during her entire career in the U.S. Requiring this brilliant ballerina to wait in line for opportunities at ABT while the celebrina/fakerina and the equinerina stomp & clomp through major Petipa roles is dim-sighted and dimwitted.
Lastly, at about 2:32 there is a clip of the producer addressing and thanking a group. The statuesque Svetlana Zakharova, one of the show's MCs, stands elegantly in the center wearing her humongous black and white dress with ballerina poses etched on the skirt. The photobombers standing behind her are Skylar's parents.
It will be 3 X 2 Pigeons for Marcelo Gomes when Sarasota Ballet comes to the Joyce Theater later this month.
The Joyce and Sarasota Ballet have changed the Sunday, August 19 2pm performance to include Two Pigeons, and Marcelo will dance in that performance in addition to both performances on Saturday. There are a handful of seats left for that Sunday date.
Also, don't forget that the Landmark Cinema will repeat the screening of the Royal Ballet's Swan Lake on Tuesday night at 7PM in one of their larger theaters. Tickets here.
The Russian news media continues to follow Skylar Brandt and Julian MacKay as they conclude filming the competition phase of the immensely popular Big Ballet Official TV series which will air all over Russia in January.
In this video (at 1:25), the two prepare to dance Sebastian Bertaud's Renaissance which he choreographed for the Paris Opera Ballet's 2016-2017 season. The dazzling costumes came from the imagination of Balmain's head designer, Olivier Rousteing. According to the article accompanying the video below, the costumes are so heavily jeweled that they were transported from Paris in a safe.
But wait a minute! Are Skylar's parents sitting in the judges' chairs?! What?!😹
Below is a video clip from POB's performance of Renaissance featuring Dorothée Gilbert.
What an enjoyable new Swan Lake the Royal Ballet can boast about. The filmed live performance was screened Tuesday night at Landmark Cinemas on W. 57th Street at 12th Avenue and will be screened again next Tuesday. Landmark Cinemas, which is in the base of the new Via apartment complex, must be the snazziest movie house on the island. You won't want to go home after the show, and there's no need to because the cinema's bright bar & lounge beckon you to stay as you approach the exit to leave.
The RB's Swan Lake is lovely, indeed, but what a strange ending. After Odette went over the cliff, Siegfried disappeared into the darkness under the cliff and re-emerged carrying the Odette (in young girl form wearing her nightie) who first appeared in the prologue. Siegfried never actually met her then, but apparently he knew she was Odette in the water. As he walked forward with her lifeless body, Odette in swan form appeared above the cliff flapping her wings. This all must have made the story more "relevant" for Liam Scarlett who managed the new production. But as we tend to say now and then, and perhaps too much – relevance is overrated.
Marianela Nunez was stunning, of course, as both Odette and Odile. If anyone is interested, her fouettes -- all 32 counts of them -- did not move off of the proverbial quarter on the floor. Most impressive, however, was her Act II solo--particularly the opening battements in which her foot that began extended to the back came to the flattest fifth position we've ever seen before brushing the battement upward. It was the most textbook perfect that we've ever seen this sequence performed. All of her dancing was lovely, incredibly secure, and included musical detailing that made it interesting. She didn't convey a lot of vulnerability but she had us convinced of the seriousness of her predicament.
Vadim Muntagirov as Siegfried was near perfection in technical matters, but a little monochromatic rather than dramatic. One thing is for certain – he looks, dances, and acts a lot better since joining the Royal Ballet than when he paid NY a visit some years before.
Alexander Campbell, Akane Takada, and Francesca Hayward danced a rich and satisfying Pas de Trois with more than the customary allegro-devilishness, particularly in Act III during which they got extensive stage time.
The overall presentation on film could use a lot more light. There is an abundance of dark costumes and dark colored set pieces which make it somewhat difficult to see the dancers now and then. Even the swans in their gorgeous tutus were deep in shadows. This level of lighting would be death to a production like Mayerling.
There will be another screening of Swan Lake next Tuesday at 7pm. It is well worth the $19.50 to stretch out in the awesome recliner chairs with your feet up and enjoy the Royal Ballet. For sure, nobody in Covent Garden was as relaxed and comfortable as we all were last night.